ABC Online: “Aboriginal people seek refugee status”
A group of Aboriginal people has asked the United Nations to register them as refugees, saying the Northern Territory intervention has made them outcasts in their own country
Richard Downs, a spokesperson for the Alyawarra Nation, which represents about 4000 people in central Australia, says the request was handed to the United Nations special rapporteur, who was visiting the Northern Territory last week.
The request urged the UN to register their people under the international refugee convention as internally displaced persons.
Mr Downs says people of the Alyawarra Nation have been left with no choice because the federal intervention in the Northern Territory has taken away their rights.
“We’ve got no say at all,” he said. “We feel like an outcast in our community, refugees in our own country.” [more at link]
The United Nations has recently been involved in a number of issues regarding the treatment of Indigenous people in Australia. The UN have been requesting information on the torturous heat death of a Warburton-area elder in police custody; the overturning of the Racial Discrimination Act which government defended as a “special measure” – possibly soon to be overturned thanks to UN input; and they’ve requested that the Government compensate Stolen Generations appropriately and been refused.
The UN has a special investigator who is continuing to examine issues in remote Aboriginal communities.
More from Patrick Dodson via the SMH: “Australia a ‘trapped, paralysed’ nation”
Two opposing forces framed the relationship between indigenous people and the nation state, Professor Dodson said. ”On the one hand there is an aggressive polemic, often masquerading as scholarship, which portrays traditional culture and the structures that protect and support Aboriginal society as reasons for chronic disadvantage and impediments to closing the gap.
”On the other hand there is the reality of contemporary indigenous nations throughout Australia whose people want liberation from material deprivation, sickness and social disorder but at the same time defend what is most important to them: their culture and identity.
”As a result, we are a nation trapped by our history and paralysed by our failure to imagine any relationship with First Peoples other than assimilation, whatever its guise.”
Update 27 Aug 2009:
Update: This afternoon the UN special rapporteur on human rights gave his press conference. It’s covered here:
THE United Nations special rapporteur on indigenous rights says the intervention into remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory is clearly discriminatory, and that there is “entrenched” racism in Australia.
James Anaya didn’t pull any punches after his two-week visit of the country. He says the Rudd Government should reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act in the NT “right away” because the intervention is discriminatory.
“It undermines the right of indigenous peoples to control their own destinies, their right to self-determination,” he said.
He also slammed Labor’s policy of demanding 40-year leases over indigenous land before building new houses and said the stolen generations should be paid compensation. […]
He went on to call aspects of the Intervention “overtly discriminatory” and “demeaning”, and to state that the Government should make reparations to the Stolen Generations.